After 18 Years, Lawsuit Against GWU Succumbs

     (CN) – Closing the book on a whistle-blower case filed in 1998, a federal judge said there is no admissible evidence left to accuse George Washington University of overbilling the government for anesthesia services.
     For 18 years, four registered nurse anesthetists have pursued a lawsuit alleging that their former employer, George Washington University (GWU), submitted false claims to Medicare for reimbursement of anesthesia procedures.
     According to their complaint, GWU regularly submitted claims under the pretense that the anesthesia procedures had been entirely performed by a licensed anesthesiologist, when parts had been performed by residents or registered nurse anesthetists.
     The case came to a close Monday, however, when U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted GWU’s motion for summary judgment.
     “As the factual background tracing the slow narrowing of this case shows, relators have not provided any evidence that would be admissible at trial to prove their allegations as to 2,579 medical procedures for which they assert GWU knowingly submitted a false claim,” the 18-page opinion states.
     Last year, the court had upheld various evidentiary objections by GWU precluding plaintiffs from introducing evidence related to 2,162 of the total 2,579 Medicare claims.
     Two newer orders held that the remaining alleged false claims were also unsupported by admissible evidence.
     “As a result of these rulings, and the rulings coming before them, there is no longer a ‘genuine dispute as to any material fact’ regarding whether GWU knowingly submitted false Medicare claims,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote.
     “In short, in light of the various motions in limine limiting the evidence on which relators can rely, relators lack a triable case in this matter,” she added. “The court has no choice but to grant summary judgment on the body of evidence (or lack thereof) before it.” (Parentheses in original.)

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